Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Krampus!

Have you heard of Krampus? He's the mythical beast-like creature of Germanic origin who punishes naughty children during the Christmas season. He is Santa's counterpart, like the Grinch but about 50 times scarier. He looks like a demon - horns, hooves, hair and all - and is known to beat and/or abduct children. The above depiction of Krampus genuinely disturbs me on a number of levels.


Krampus has been around and celebrated for ages, but is not so well known here in the U.S. Recently it seems he has been gaining popularity, as evidenced by the artist/author Brom's recent book Krampus the Yule Lord, and by the fact that I am invited to a Krampus themed holiday party this year.

Like any respectable Krampus gathering, the guests have been instructed to arrive in costume (or at least masks). I did some research, weighed my options, and decided to try my hand at making the masks out of felt. Have you ever tried felting? I am now a felting addict. Below I have vaguely documented the process of making a felt Krampus mask:

1. Cut out the base shape of the mask (it helps to measure from forehead to chin, and ear to ear, and use these measurements to make a paper template).

2. Start adding some bulk to the mask using roving and a felting needle (there are good online tutorials for this stuff - there is no sewing involved! Hooray!). Roving is basically just loose wool that you can mold and twirl into whatever shape you need.

3. Add some details. Make teeth.

4. Done! The horns each have a pipe cleaner inside so they can be twisted and shaped. You can use sturdier wire, but I liked pipe cleaners because the wool really clung to them and made it easier to shape around them.

 Let the devilish good times commence!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Home Grown Gifts (again)

Creative gift idea: personalized recipe box with favorite recipes inside.
Recipients: My good friends Owen and Sarah for their wedding.

With this box I channeled their romantic-with-a-dark-side aesthetic, and topped it off with their black cat Mim.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hartford Art School Low Residency MFA in Illustration

Have you ever thought about getting your MFA in Illustration, but were worried about the time commitment, the cost, having to move, etc? Well, I just want to take a moment to put in a plug for the Low Residency MFA in Illustration at the Hartford Art School. I am in the midst of my first year in the program, and since beginning the program in July I have my first two children's book proposals under review, I have gotten work from a dream client, I have had my work re-energized, my understanding of the history of the field of illustration has deepened, and my circle of illustration contacts and friends has expanded to include folks from across the country who work not only in the children's and fantasy markets, but who do concept work, editorial, licensing, and more.

For me, the best part about the program is that my classmates and the faculty are ALL working illustrators. Many of my classmates are mid-career, so have quite a lot of experience in the field, and at least half of them are already teaching on a college level. Every single person involved in the program, whether faculty or student, is a great resource for information and feedback.

The program is structured so that its students can continue to live their lives, so that it won't disrupt their freelance or teaching careers, or their other full or part-time jobs. Those that have families don't have to move, or be limited to only what is offered nearby. We are technically full-time students, but only meet for a total of four weeks out of the year for two years (three summers). These one or two-week intensives are exactly that - intense! I always come away from them full of inspiration and new ideas. In-between the intensives we work on some small assignments, and most importantly we develop our thesis projects. For a lot of students, the thesis is something that they have been wanting to work on for a while, but needed some motivation and guidance to make it happen. I have been working on my thesis for 7 months now, and have over a year to go, and I am incredibly excited about it. I'm sure I'll do some posting about it in the months to come.

So that's my little pitch for this fabulous program. If you are thinking about getting your MFA and the low residency format sounds right for you, you can read more about it on the website here - Hartford Art School MFA in Illustration. Be sure to check out the mind-blowingly amazing list of faculty, and links to the work of current students.